I begin this article with, a ‘Thank you,’ to our Missouri fire service who took time out of your busy schedule to attend Firefighters Day at the Capitol. It was rewarding to be able to meet in person, shake hands, hug necks and have real in-person conversations. I appreciate Governor Parson taking the time to come and address us, along with Lt. Governor Kehoe, Senator Rowden, Representative Roden, Missouri Department of Public Safety Director Karsten, St. Louis Firefighter Elizabeth McCormick, Deputy Chief Guadamuz, Assistant State Fire Marshal Matt Luetkemeyer, our thirteenth-floor staff, and Photographer Gail Hagans for each of their roles to make this a successful event. We look forward to hosting it again next year, good Lord willing.
It was humbling and an honor, as the state fire marshal to have the Division of Fire Safety team present to help kick off our 50th Anniversary celebration. We were honored to have three of our previous state fire marshals, Bill Farr, Randy Cole, and Greg Carrell in attendance along with several former Division of Fire Safety employees. It was extremely special to have Fire Chief Richard “Smoky” Dyer and Rich Lehmann who were two original fire investigators to be hired on June 23rd, 1972, when the state fire marshal’s office was established. We look forward to carrying on the high standard of professional services our predecessors established for the next 50 years. We plan on having a casual gathering in late June here in Jefferson City. Stay tuned for the date, time and location.
I need to address conversations that have been discussed across our Missouri fire service about the 36-hour basic firefighter class that has been in existence and taught all over the state for years. As an instructor, I have taught this basic class at least 25 times over the years. As a matter of fact while at West Plains Fire Department, we would teach this class to our whole department every year. I absolutely believe any firefighter should take Basic Fire Fighter along with Hazardous Materials Awareness early in their career. The knowledge and skills learned in this basic class will stay with you your entire fire career in my opinion.
Basic Fire Fighter was established under NFPA 1001 Standard for Fire Fighter Professional Qualifications. NFPA 1001 had an update in 2019. We had several complaints about the class needing an update. We at the Division did not have the manpower with all of our other responsibilities to rewrite the class. We had a conversation with the MU Fire and Rescue Training Institute (MU FRTI) who agreed to take the task on and rewrite the class. This was completed by MU FRTI in the fall of 2021, a train-the-trainer was completed and is now available for delivery. The MU FRTI class is titled Introduction to the Fire Service.
Now about funding for the 36-hour Basic Fire Fighter course. Two years ago the State of Missouri implemented a new process on how we award our fire education funds to the training partners who provide training to our Missouri fire service. Each class has to have a Request for Proposal (RFP) within the state system to be awarded funding to be taught. Due to Basic Fire Fighter not being up to standard, after RFPs were awarded, we removed it from the request list.
The present contracts for state-funded firefighter classes expire in August 2023. With Basic Fire Fighter being updated it will become eligible to be added to the next RFP contact cycle. I am excited for this to come to fruition. Our volunteer fire departments will be able to once again get the entry-level minimum training to keep them safe and returning home at no cost.
I hope I explained how and what is going on with the basic firefighter’s class presently. I will add if your department has funding you can contact MU FRTI and get the class brought to your agency.
In closing, I hope I will see you at our yearly fallen firefighter’s candlelight and memorial services on May 14th and 15th in Kingdom City. Come and support our survivor’s families and your state firefighter memorial. Thank you each for everything you do wherever you are. I appreciate you! Contact me if there is anything I can help you or your department with. May God continue to watch over you!